Category: Life

To Break the Monotony

I didn’t write last week. And i almost didn’t write this week. Sometimes the daily drudgery gets so overwhelming that i forget my life hasn’t been filled with just earning a paycheck, doing chores, and raising children. It’s easy, at times like these, to think that maybe i have nothing of value to write at all. Because who wants to hear about today’s adventures in laundry? But then i get to thinking about what story gems i have in my head. Moments of excitement that the universe has afforded me throughout the years.

For example:

My oldest weedling and i were once almost arrested for taking pictures of subway art in Portugal. In our defense, the art was really awesome. And it was only the tunnel to the train… We didn’t think the tile walls and industrial lighting contained military secrets, so it didn’t seem improper to take pictures. And there weren’t any signs telling us not to. We couldn’t be blamed for wanting to document memories. The Lisbon police begged to differ.

I was also once chased by military police through an airport in Madrid… Because i was carrying a sword. When they came running after me, i got scared and ran too… Still brandishing the sword. It was a ceremonial replica, a gift for my husband at the time, and it never occurred to me that running through the airport with a sword held high was the reason they were chasing me. When they finally caught me, they seemed surprised i wasn’t drunk. In retrospect, it would have been less embarrassing if i had been drunk. Drunk is usually better than just stupid.

I once was publicly reprimanded by a sheik for calling out the ref (Who also happened to be the sheik) at a pickup basketball game in the United Arab Emirates. Well, the public reprimand was rather fake, to be honest. He knew my outburst was an accident – And it wasn’t like he was trying to hide the fact that he was terribly biased against my shipmates who were playing the locals. So he quietly told me i was making him look bad and to not do it again. Then he told me to cry so that all the people who were watching the game would think he had torn me a new one. Rather nice of him, as i’m sure he could have publicly flogged me or something. Instead, i got a true story that sounds like fiction.

I have a terracotta pitcher in my kitchen that i use to store cooking utensils. I won it in a hole-in-the-wall bar in Spain. It was the grand prize for being able to dance around a chair for an entire song with the pitcher on my head… While it was filled with sangria. Actually, i was filled with sangria too. That may have had something to do with it. Maybe. Probably. But i have been known to dance for less.

Just ask my weedlings. It’s the bane of their existence.

I’ve been in protests (Including quite a few “nurse-ins”) and served in a war. I’ve had varied careers and have equally varied college degrees. I’ve performed on stage, deejayed on the radio, and entertained foreign dignitaries at dinner. I have flown a plane, fired a weapon, and swum with fishes (As opposed to sleeping with the fishes, which i have not done, obviously. Thank you God!)

I have also slept on the ground, eaten cold beans from a can, and been so broke that i didn’t think i’d ever be anything but scrap-poor. I’ve made huge, mind-boggling mistakes. And i once took last place in a beauty pageant. Gotta have the downs to appreciate the ups.

I have had pasta and gelato in Italy, poutine in Canada, and bananas in the Central American jungle. I have also had Japanese food in Jamaica, Korean food in Panama, and Nepali food in Wisconsin.  Go figure.

I have seen the sun rise over the Pacific, and the sun set over the Atlantic. (Yes, my fellow Americans, it can happen that way. I promise.)

I have done so many things that started out as stupid ideas, but turned out be amazing experiences. And i’ve had grandiose plans turn into snore fests. You never know where things will lead when you take that first step.

So as i sit here on the couch with SiriDog, staring at the dining room which needs to be cleaned, thinking about the work i need to do tomorrow, and making lists of the bills to pay tonight… Really, in a way, this is just a rest stop between the last adventure and the next. Time to start planning the next one!

Unfortunately, i still have to do the chores and pay the bills before i get there.

 

Serenity In Tinnitus

I opened my eyes early this morning after my phone chirped to inform me of our first frost warning of the season. When i looked out my window, i could see my American flag blowing in what appeared to be a good breeze. Seeing how i was all snuggled under my new duvet, i decided to hop up and crack the window so i could listen to the sound of the wind as i took my leisure in waking.

I snuggled back under the covers, but my tinnitus is too loud for me to hear the wind. I hate the way it gets so bad sometimes.

But then i get to thinking… Does the tinnitus really wax and wane, or is it just that other sounds sometimes take my focus? I rarely am overpowered by it at work, for example. It is possible that, for whatever reason, it isn’t as bad at that time. But it seems equally as likely that my mind is in “work mode”, and so is ignoring the whooshing and ringing in my ears to concentrate on the sounds of the office. I give it a shot and try to focus on the sound of the wind. Still no luck. So i try harder. But the discordant droning in my head plays on.

Grrrrrrr. Stupid ears!

I remember reading somewhere that TMJ issues can worsen tinnitus. Since i have had long-term TMJ damage with multiple corrective surgeries, i deduce that maybe my growing frustration isn’t helping matters any, and try the opposite route. I physically relax my body, breathe deep, and try to forget about the wind, concentrating instead on the feel of the duvet against my skin and the leftover scent of the infuser i set last night. It doesn’t seem to work at first…

But as i continue to breathe in the custom blend i made last night (Clary sage, geranium, and tangerine, in case you’re interested) and revel in how good my bed feels; little snippets of rustling leaves come to me. And as dawn begins to break, the owls start with Last Call.

My neighborhood owls are freakin’ LOUD.

That definitely claims my aural attention.

And once it is there, the rest of nature follows suite and starts wandering into my ears. For a few minutes, i think of nothing else but those sounds. Those beautiful, god-like sounds.

Then the thought comes to me – I wonder if that is what serenity is? Letting those god-like moments claim your focus, instead of all the crap we encounter day-to-day guiding our thoughts? When i am listening to the owls and the wind and the rain, my tinnitus isn’t really gone… Whether by biology or psychology, it is just relegated to the background. What if i could learn to take that same approach to the rest of life? What if, instead of attaching my attention to bills, and politics, and the ever-wobblier hi-helens under my arms, and the inconsiderate schmuck who came barrel-assing the wrong way up a one way parking lot lane this morning and nearly ran me over… Effing moron…. What if i could redirect myself to occupy my mind with the wonderful things my weedlings do, the taste of the perfect tea blend in my cup, the music coming out of my laptop (One of my favorites – The Ramin Djawadi Amazon Prime station), and the scent of autumn that is in the air? The crap that life tosses at us, sometimes like it’s playing a championship game of dodgeball, wouldn’t go away. But just like the tinnitus, perhaps it can be relegated to a less prominent part of my brain, and therefore, become less annoying.

I’m not talking about the serious issues that need to be dealt with here. Health problems, personal safety, parenting – true responsibilities…. These are things that need tending and should never be ignored. I’m talking about the guttersnipe who cut ahead of you in line at the deli. The demon who keeps stealing your reading glasses and hiding them in places you KNOW you didn’t leave them. The evil pranksters who choose the fit models for every women’s clothing company in America. The piece-of-dung reprobate who uses the last of the toilet paper and doesn’t replace it. And the unforgiving rush-hour traffic gods.

You know – The generic assholes and frustrating drudgery that are the gristle on the meat of life.

Lets face it, we can’t get rid of these things, so it doesn’t really make sense to let them rule our moods. I, for one, am incapable of doing this without help. Hell, even with help, i am often incapable. So i am hoping that regular practice of my morning tinnitus breakthrough might gain me a little ground and growth in that area. Maybe it will make me a more relaxed person. If i can just learn to turn my attention away from unhelpful things.

I think this is why the yoga crowd is usually far more peaceful… They’ve learned how to focus all their attention on not falling over when they are standing on one toe with their other appendages fanned out like an abstract peacock – Thereby stealing their focus from the bullshit of life. You rarely see a yoga instructor screaming obscenities at the driver in front of them, so it must work.

If i am wrong, don’t tell me. Let me stay deluded. I need something to hope for.

I am going to try this kind of deliberate redirection of concentration as a life theory. It won’t be easy. I mean, it took my obnoxiously loud neighborhood owls to snap my attention to the wind. Perhaps i need to occasionally smack myself upside the head with some lavender branches or smoosh my face into a slice of freshly baked bread (You know, to make sure i get both the taste AND the smell…) I do have some tools already in my arsenal, but they won’t work for all occasions. I have been known, for example,  to visit the cubicles of certain people at work during high stress times because their hugs have enough warm energy to pull my brain away from the frustration; but i can’t be doing that every time i need to chill… Human Resources would take issue with it, and i’d never meet my deadlines. So i need to find other figurative loud owls. If there were a cannoli shop close by, that would work, but my arse would probably grow to be the size of Wisconsin – So i’m probably lucky i don’t have one near me. I will have to come up with something that doesn’t get me in hot water or worsen my aging bat wings.

But a cannoli really does sound like a good idea.

Anyway, so here’s to continued efforts to learn to drown out those things we cannot change. To cut out the moldy bit in the corner and enjoy the rest of the perfectly aged cheddar. To take pleasure in the intense blue of the sky in spite of the weather report for rain later. To be proud that we earn a paycheck rather than being disheartened at the amount of it. To remember the man who held the door instead of the one that cut us off. To live by compliments rather than insults. If we can find that serenity, perhaps it will boost out courage to change the things we can, and increase our wisdom in knowing the difference.

 

“Next Rest Area: 1,000 Miles”

It has been an emotional couple of weeks. Last week was overwhelmingly sad and scary (And not just because of the news.) This coming week will be just as overwhelmingly joyous and celebratory. And in between, there have been moments of humor, exhaustion, sweetness, anger, numbness, friendship, and loneliness. Granted, all of these things are a part of life and experienced regularly. But they aren’t usually all jammed into a couple of weeks.

Kind of like binge watching all of Game of Thrones in a single day.

Highs and lows, up and down, like a San Francisco street car.

Tom Cochrane may have sung that “Live is a highway”, but i would say that isn’t necessarily a good thing. If your life is like a highway in north Jersey, for example, riddled with potholes, crazy high tolls, and the aromas of Newark … Well, it would be easy to wish you stayed in bed.

Sometimes life has been more like a highway in DC. Overrun with self-serving and dishonest schmucks who refuse even the smallest bit of graciousness by letting you into the fray. With no one giving you a break, you end up railroaded off an exit and into a neighborhood even rabid dogs won’t go near. You tearfully make your way back to the interstate, just hoping you get there before someone carjacks you.

Far too often life is like a highway in NYC or LA – So crazy busy and congested that you can’t get off the highway to pee, never mind eat. You just keep your mind on your destination, cross your fingers and your legs, and hope you get to the end point before you lose your mind or wet your pants. (All the while assuming that you are going the right way, even as you see a landmark that you are sure you passed 20 minutes ago…)

At other times, life can be like a highway in Louisiana. What was once beautiful is now broken. The landscape, still half drowned in rain and tears, is a reminder that nothing in life is indestructible, and not everything is fixable.  You curse Mother Nature, the government, and people’s short memories as you envision what was and what should be. You think about what could be. But you know that even if effort goes in, things are never the same after. The melancholy and resignation is palpable.

When we are lucky, life is like a highway on the Pacific Northwest coast – Long swaths of panoramic views that take your breath away and remind you that God/Goddess/Universe was a freaking artistic genius. Beauty. Majesty. All four earth elements existing at once. Awesome in the literal sense. The caveat to this is that, sooner or later, most of us have to move on to find work or purpose. (Or maybe it’s that most of us can only take viewing so much beauty before we need some urban filth and grit to balance it out. What do i know? I’m not Voltaire.)

Of course, there are the intermittent times when life is like a highway in Kansas. Easy, breezy, and boring as hell.

But lately, for me, the highway of life has been like Rhode Island. At times dirty, dismal, and depressing; other times, picturesque and coastal; sprinkled liberally with all forms of suburbia, good, bad, and ugly… And the whole thing passing so rapidly that you have to pull over at the local Friendly’s and rehash it in your brain to be sure you didn’t miss something. It seems impossible that all that stuff has passed in only an hour.

Truthfully, i hope the next part of life’s highway has Glacier Lake view and a reasonably priced upscale hotel; but with my luck, it will be overrun with dead deer and abandoned truck stops. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. Realistically, i will have to settle for the nice-enough scenic overlook and a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar from the gas station to refill my tank. Thankfully, both of those things are known to keep me from running on empty, even if they aren’t the stuff of pop songs.

So, my friends, if your highway of life has lately been overwhelming, know that it isn’t you. It’s the stars or the gods or statistics or whatever. And all we can do is keep driving. Even the worst traffic jams eventually make their way to open road. And if you keep driving straight ahead, sooner or later, you’ll be at a beach. And things are always better at the beach. Right?

*****

One last thing… The following Stephen King quote always makes me laugh, and much of the reason is that a small part of me wonders if it’s true….

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why God? Why me?’ And the thundering voice of God answered, There’s just something about you that pisses me off.”

Touché, Universe. Touché.

Screw the Frog Prince

I had a nice mini-discussion with a friend yesterday about the single life. About the joys and aggravations of life with a partner. And about how long we had each been without it.

I’m not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing that i no longer miss it. Does it mean that i have finally gotten totally comfortable with myself? Or does it mean that i’ve given up? Is there really a difference between the two? And all that stuff about, “When you stop looking is when your Prince (Or Princess) Charming appears”…… Well, if that isn’t total bullshit, i’ll eat my new (felted wool witches’) hat.

I mean, just think about the (il)logic of it. If you really believed that when you stop looking is when you find it, you would always be waiting for it in the back of your head when you “stop looking”, which means you really are still looking, which means you’ll never find it. And if you truly did stop looking, how would you know when it appeared?

I know. I give myself a headache sometimes.

On the flip side, there is the old saying that you have to kiss a bunch of toads before you find your prince. That at least makes sense statistically. Unfortunately, the world is full of toads. Some of them in princes’ clothing. And true princes are a rare find. You could kiss every frog in your local pond and be lucky to find a baron, never mind a prince. And you would probably end up with warts afterwards.

I stopped actively looking. No websites. No trawling. No more wishing my friends would set me up. My work and my weedlings keep me too busy to go out much anyway. So i stay at home on Saturday nights and pine after the ones who interest me while i eat pistachio ice cream in my pajamas.

I do enjoy going out with my friends. It is far better than dating because there are no hopes or expectations. They already know you and like you. Well, they like you enough to be seen in public with you anyway. They know you aren’t going home with them. And you know they aren’t going to ghost you tomorrow. You can laugh and eat and drink and make merry without discovering their political views disgust you. Or worse, you start to think they are a prince, but discover they think you are a toad.

No one wants to feel like someone else’s toad.

I’ll stick with my buddies, thanks. I’m all good.

It’s a joy to go to one of those paint and drink things with my sistas. I don’t have to explain my obsession with Harry Potter or Firefly, and they don’t laugh when i quote Star Trek. If i don’t wear makeup, and my wrinkles are on full display for their viewing (dis)pleasure, they still like me. Hell, they even still like me if i forget to bring wine! (Now that’s REAL love right there!) What more can a woman ask for?

Also, when you’re out with friends, you can eat garlic. Very important perk. All the best dishes have garlic. You also don’t have to give up stinky cheeses or spices. Big benefit! You don’t want to feel obligated to forgo yummy food because you’re worried that your date might kiss you, and you don’t want your breath to make his nose hairs catch fire. (In my experience, dates don’t like it when you burn their nose hairs.) I mean, yes, he’s a potential partner, but is he really worth giving up garlic linguine with gorgonzola sauce?

I think not.

And lets not devalue the Friday after-work decompression at a local restaurant. You can blow off steam, let go of the week, and enjoy the company of people who know exactly what you’ve gone thru for the last 5 days. You don’t have to explain every little annoying detail of unending meetings, broken interfaces, and phone calls with the daft. They don’t look at you strangely when you joke about the roach that has been belly up in the stairwell all week. You can say “The schmuckatelli drives me nuts” without having to name names. You all get it. You’ve all been there. And, not for nothing, there are nachos, and sliders, and fried calamari. All without panicking because you didn’t shave that morning. It’s a godsend.

So as i sit here, no makeup, eating chili with garlic AND beans, about to watch my favorite movie for the zillionth time (And i will quote along with it), and with full knowledge that when i go to bed tonight, no one will steal my covers… I have to say, tho there are things i miss about being half of a couple, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to be alone. There is a bright side. Lots of bennies. And no more toads. I am ok with that. Truly, i’m good. Even when i’m pining….

She Looked So Cute With Her Foot In Her Mouth

Last weekend i had an interesting encounter with two women just a tad bit older than me.

I was at the fabric store looking through the pattern books for a specific design. Now, if you have never looked thru a pattern catalogue, or haven’t looked in one recently, pretty much every company now has a few designers dedicated to the more “modern” creative. They have patterns for retro looks, funky punk looks, and even cos-play. The models for these patterns are selected as people who would likely be wanting them. (Makes sense, you don’t want a size 6 modeling a plus-sized pattern, so why would you have a supermodel aesthete modeling a 50s pin-up or Superhero look?) It is actually a very cool thing, in my opinion, because these new pattern makers are bringing a new generation and breed to the sewing circle.

 

Sitting across from me at the pattern table were two women. I vaguely recognized one of them as working at the same hospital i do. Both women have maybe 5 years on me. Both were dressed like more typical 50-60 somethings. Pedal pushers, sensible shoes, and shoulder-length hair dyed the color it was in their 30s. I was wearing a linen dress that i had designed and made myself, metallic sandals, and some kickass holographic lipgloss that i was told complimented the white in my hair. The table is the width of 2 school desks, so tho i was not intentionally listening to my tablemates’ conversation, i could hear every word.

“Would you look at that?” One points to a picture in the pattern book of a raven-haired, crimson-lipped woman dressed in a jumpsuit with a Rosie the Riveter vibe.  “What is she gonna look like when she is our age? She is going to look ridiculous. Like an old peeling billboard. Why would she think that is attractive? She looks trashy!” … As she points to the (beautifully done) tattoos on the arm that is poised in a power move.

I didn’t mean to laugh out loud. It just happened.

They look up at me and turn the pattern book so i can see what they are talking about.

I reach out to hold the page up, showing off my wrist tattoo.

They went parchment white.

“Bbbbuuut, yours is pretty. And it is small. I mean, hers covers her whole arm. She’d never get a professional job.”

I reach out with my other arm, the one with the rat, Algernon, on it, and lift the book to look closer.

I don’t want to make them feel badly, because i am an adult and i don’t pick unnecessary fights. But i also don’t want to let them off the hook because, well, because i’m me and i often do things before i think them thru.

“It’s ok. I know they aren’t for everyone. But i actually have a few others, some very large, and i do have a professional job. In fact, i work for the same hospital you do.”

I didn’t think it was possible, but they got whiter.

“I am sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I just don’t understand the whole tattoo / piercing / giant hole in the ears thing. I didn’t mean that you were… ” She drifts off here, i think because she wasn’t sure what, exactly, she had been trying to imply.

“It’s ok. Really. I understand that many people don’t get the appeal, ” And then i showed her the one that i got to cover a giant spider vein on my leg.

“Oh! That is pretty! I have a bad vein too, and i had been thinking about getting a treatment on it, but it is so expensive! I never thought to cover it that way!” And we start to talk about how all hospital workers end up with spider and varicose veins, and how much it sucks to be on your feet all day, and how so many don’t realize exactly how hard our jobs are, and on and on. A right proper hospital-sisters bitch session. Before you know it, they are asking my opinion on a dress pattern they are looking for that would be suitable for the older of the two to be married in (No… We were quickly approaching lunchtime, so there weren’t enough hours for me to discuss my thoughts on marriage. Or my many failures in them.) I tried to convince them that the Delores Umbridge look wasn’t celebratory enough for a wedding (Not in those words, because i’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have had a clue what they meant), but they didn’t care for any of the patterns i liked because they had this aversion to their Hi-Helens (Or bat wings, if you prefer) flying free in all their glorious, aged splendor. To each their own, i guess.

By the time we went our separate ways, we were laughing.

I am certain i didn’t change their minds on body ink. Nor did they change my mind on the appropriate dress for a woman our age. But maybe they learned that their viewpoint isn’t a given with women our age. Or maybe they learned that inked people aren’t what they expected. Or maybe they just learned to look before they speak. For my part, i got to practice how to confront behavior without being harsh, and how to handle differing opinions with tact (Confrontation in general isn’t my strong suit.) (Neither is tact.)  I learned that i don’t always have to suck it up. And maybe i even made a work connection with someone very different who shares the same love of designing.

In any of those cases, it beats not saying anything and allowing myself to feel stomped. It beats getting angry and causing others to feel attacked or shamed. I’m pretty proud of us and how we handled it. And since practice makes perfect, maybe someday i will grow to be that resolved and tactful all the time.

But i wouldn’t hold my breath if i were you. I’m still me.

Reading Is Fundamental, And Not Just For Nerds

Friday night on the porch. Lemonade with a shot of Hendricks. Feet up in my wicker chair while the rain makes its beautiful music. And a brand new volume of Uncle Walt to annotate and highlight. Curious as to how many of my friends were also spending their Friday night delighting in solitary literary pleasures, i posted the fact on Facebook. I was surprised at how many of my friends enjoyed something similar… And overjoyed that so many obviously knew who Uncle Walt was. (Walt Whitman, for you non-poetry geeks.) But i do have to admit that, before i posted it, i wasn’t sure if the fact made me a geek, or a nerd, or just a dork. I had to look it up. Thankfully, there is a simple Venn diagram to help (This one is courtesy of Laughing Squid).

Screenshot 2018-06-23 at 08.11.14

 

Truthfully, i wasn’t sure if i was more of a geek or a nerd. But yep, nerd it is. Kind of hard to be a geek and NOT be a nerd, really. I mean, social interaction is difficult when people don’t “get” your Klingon vernacular and Chemistry jokes. I have to say, tho, that it is getting easier, and i believe we have filmmakers to thank for that. I mean, millions of people who never read any Tolkien now understand what all the geek-fuss was about. The Star Wars and Star Trek franchises have made it to mainstream action film lovers. And Marvel… Well, come on… Who wouldn’t want to see Robert Downey Jr’s sexy visage on the big screen? Because of these cinematic successes, people who never would have otherwise are actually reading books! Ok, mostly e-books (My hardline feeling on the distinction will be saved for a later post), but none-the-less, people are reading. How glorious is that?

We all know, as it has been repeated for decades, the benefits of reading to children. But more and more, science is proving that reading as adults has a multitude of advantages as well: Improvements in critical thinking, analysis, vocabulary, writing skill… Not to mention mental focus and stress reduction. (Rather than me posting a solitary website to cite, please GTS. There are articles on it from all corners of the scientific community) And You don’t have to be reading Dostoyevsky or Shakespeare. Non-fiction, poetry (Yes, song lyrics count), self-help (Which is often halfway between fiction and non-), religious texts, cheap romance novels, short stories … Even reading children’s classics has a positive effect. Some studies go as far as to say that in-depth magazine articles make a measurable improvement.

I admit, the last makes me happy. Tho i know it is a sin against Mother Earth, i do enjoy a nice, glossy magazine.  Online versions, just like with books, just aren’t the same to me.

Reading makes you smarter. It makes you better able to communicate. It provides entertainment. And it makes you more entertaining at parties because it gives you something to talk about other than TV shows and our volatile Orwellian jello mold of a government. It can also be relatively little cash. I generally buy used books because i prefer hardcover, and those aren’t inexpensive when new. Your local thrift store likely has whole bunches of books on the cheap. And more e-books (Ugh, i just tasted bile) than you’d imagine can be gotten for free on many websites.

If you prefer something more  politically relevant, there is Machiavelli if you want to impress people, and Limbaugh if you don’t. And whether you are religious or not, reading religious texts is a good thing because, on top of the benefits of reading, they help you to understand why other people think how they do. (Reminder: You don’t have to agree to understand.) And if you haven’t read one recently, pick up your weedling’s history or Social Science textbook. Things have changed a lot since we were their age. Hell, the globe doesn’t even have the same countries on it.

Before you say you don’t have enough time…. Writers from Stephen King to Rosamunde Pilcher have short story anthologies. And i personally own quite a few compendiums of short stories by groups of authors. There are short novel writers à la Steinbeck and Bach.  There are observationalists like Robert Fulghum. If you have a spiritual bent, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa both have books to their credit with short affirmations to consume. There are great articles in National Geographic for the naturalists, and in The New Yorker if you are an urbanite. If you love song lyrics, try some poetry. Pick up some Maya Angelou or Dylan Thomas. So many options, so little time.

If you have some brain wiring that makes reading difficult, try a large print edition or one made specifically for dyslexic readers (They use specific fonts and paper color/types that are known to make it easier). From what i found with a little research, there are a lot of resources out there for you. Do not give up!

If you don’t know what to start with, ask your favorite voracious reader. Tell them the kinds of things you like. Those of us who read a lot are usually pretty good at recommendations. Your librarian or bookstore clerks are good to tap. Or, perhaps my favorite option, What should I read next?, a website where you type in a book that you enjoyed, and it makes recommendations.

So make yourself a cup of tea, or a cocktail, or a special soda, put your feet up somewhere pleasant with good light, and dig in. Even if it is just a chapter a day, it will make a difference. And whether you are like me and have a tendency to highlight and annotate as you read, or you are one of those who tries hard to keep the book like new, there is no wrong way. Just like physical exercise, the what and the how are less important than the fact that you do it.

Now, if you will excuse me, Uncle Walt is waiting. I am counting on him to help keep my brain working as i head toward decrepitude. Well, him and his cousins Heinlein, and Poe, and Allende, and Avi, and Thoreau, and Chopra, and Lawrence, and St Paul, and….

 

 

To Have My Cake, And Date It Too

I am really starting to doubt myself.

I bought a short-term membership to a dating website. I put a decent picture of myself on there and a positive and realistic short writeup on who i am. I didn’t expect much. I mean, well, it is what it is. So i wasn’t expecting a thousand Prince Charmings waiting to message me. But i expected more than i got. With a couple of exceptions, i got recommended a bunch of the same basic profile:

Men who looked like Gandalf on crack, can’t put three words together lyrically, and swear they are only 40 years old.

The first time i joined an online dating service, i spent an inordinate amount of time filling out my profile and picking out just the right picture.  When i activated it, it took me a full week to get a single match. And i kid you not, that single match was a man who looked like an old tinker from a fairytale, who listed his job as “ghost hunter”… And who lived over 4,000 miles away on another continent.

It wasn’t the first blow to my ego. Nor the last. Online dating sites keep you humble.

I have met a couple very cool people via these websites. Friends that i might not have met otherwise. So it hasn’t all been for nothing. But on the whole, i have to believe that one of two things are true:

A) I am truly so incompatible that my choices will always have the visage and affect of well-chewed dog toys, or

B) People lie so much that no dating service will ever be reliable, so i either need to lie just as much or stop using them altogether.

And i had actually stopped using them. Then i guess my ego needed a smack upside the head, or i forgot about the lying.

And yes, i realize that people lie because they want to up their chances and make themselves look their best. We don’t want to admit our flaws and potentially hurt our chance at someone good. No one is ever going to post a profile that reads, “I’m generally a decent person. I am smart and funny. But i drink milk straight from the carton, and, typical of my engineering background, i often wear socks with my sandals.” It doesn’t paint the best picture. But to be honest, i’d be more inclined to go for that. At least it is real and probably true, and that scores points with me.

And in the name of all that is holy, random dating site members, if you are going to lie, at least make it plausible. If you look like Mel Brooks from last Tuesday, don’t say you just made Blazing Saddles. And conversely, don’t post pictures of you wearing your Don Johnson blazer because you look young in it. We know that blazer hasn’t seen the light of day in at least 25 years. And what the hell is it with you obviously shady-side-of-the-hill men saying you only want women 25-35? You looking for a date, or someone to adopt?

To be fair, i’m sure most women do the same thing. I’ve been told there are far too many of us posting Glamour Shot photos and posting our weight in kilograms instead of pounds. That isn’t cool either.

If, indeed, you are hoping to meet someone in person, it doesn’t make sense to lie about your appearance.

I am what i am. And i try to market myself that way. But perhaps the readers see it as, “If this is the best she can come up with, she must be really bad!” Or maybe they aren’t really looking for a date at all. Maybe they are looking for an escape from reality.

Now there’s an idea. A dating website that isn’t about real dating, but instead, one that is about fantasy dating. You can be whomever you want and have the kind of relationship you want… But only online. You never meet them, so you never know the truth. You never get to wake up to anyone for real, but you also don’t wake up to the mess they left in the bathroom. The idea does have merit. But i am thinking there are easier and cheaper ways to have that.

Anyway, i’m glad i only bought a short-term membership. Perhaps my ego needed a smack, but it doesn’t need more permanent scars. Rather than the online meat market, maybe i just need to get out more. Meet new people. Let serendipity have a chance. But the last three times i went out like that, i was receiving crass comments and photos before i ever left the venue.

Dude, if “I want to see those boobs” is the best line in your arsenal, you need to go back to 7th grade.

I really shouldn’t care about any of this. Truthfully, i have no reason to complain in my life. I have a great one. Awesome weedlings, a home, a job that i enjoy most of the time, good health, loving friends. Why do i need more?

I don’t.

So i’m just going to quit bitching and get on with life. Forcing a connection isn’t going to work, i have no control over what people post, and Liam Neeson isn’t on there anyway. (If i ever saw him on there, i’d assume it was a lie and go right past it!)  Maybe that’s why i join periodically – to remind myself that i don’t need this. I have plenty, and any icing on the cake is just that… Icing on the cake. And my cake is pretty damned good.

But a little frosting wouldn’t hurt every now and then.